Just a week after the government barred four scientists including former chief of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), G Madhavan Nair, from holding any official position over their alleged role in the controversial Antrix-Devas deal, ISRO has now justified the move, saying there were “serious procedural lapses” in the controversial contract.
The space agency has released parts of a report prepared by a high-level committee – that probed the deal – that has seriously indicted Mr Nair and others, saying the agreement “seems to be lacking in transparency and due diligence”. “There have not only been serious administrative and procedural lapses but also suggestion of collusive behaviour on the part of certain individuals and accordingly, responsibilities have to be fixed for taking action”.
Mr Nair, the former ISRO boss, is under the scanner for his alleged role in the sale of the precious S-band spectrum by ISRO’s commercial arm Antrix at inexplicably low prices to a private firm Devas in 2005.
The five-member committee that was set up in May last year and was headed by former Chief Vigilance Commissioner, Pratyush Sinha, in its report, says that that the terms of the contract “were heavily loaded in favour of Devas”. The report also says that the “approval process for the deal was riddled with incomplete and inaccurate information” with no clearance obtained from the legal cells of the Department of Space and the Finance Ministry – mandatory for any international agreement by any department of the Indian government.
The committee has further recommended action against Mr Nair as also the three scientists – A Bhaskaranarayana, KR Sridhara Murthi and KN Shankara all of whom have since retired.